What is ecotourism?
Ecotourism is a way of alternative tourism that focuses on responsible small scale tourism which sustains the well-being of the local people. The idea is to minimize impacts on the environment and on the same way it educates to build environmental and cultural awareness.
In general it sounds simple: buy your own property, dig little bit deeper into gardening, make an account on workaway, invite young volunteers who are realizing your dream and after a while you might reach whatever you are striving for. But is it that simple? In Turkey we’ve met Bahadir Bahar, a 34 years old primary school teacher, who just started to realize his dream of a small organic farm, where people can come, meet and share their experiences. But how did he make it? We asked Bahadir some questions to share his background, how he realized his small organic farm and what does it take to make everything applicable. We hope this one can help you to start with your own project.
Sima and Julian: “Hello Bahadir how are you?”
Bahadir: “Thanks guys, I am fine.”
Julian: “Why did you want to have an eco farm?”
Bahadir: “Well I was always interested in nature and organic food. If you buy something from the market or wherever, you oftentimes don‘t know where it really comes from. So I decided to produce my own natural food without any additives like chemicals. Basically it was my dream and way of living my life, with pure nature, natural healthy food a slow life with all of my friends. I got the idea that with having a eco farm, I can meet up with people who got similar ideas.”
Sima: ”For how long have you been doing this? ”
Bahadir: “I started the project 4 years ago when I bought the land. Honestly, for the first time I had the project on my mind 12 years ago. I was planning, collecting ideas and gathering informations about vegetables and how a permaculture works, which was not popular at that time here in Turkey. Now it becomes more popular in Turkey.”
Julian: “Was it easy to implement everything?”
Bahadir: “No, it wasn‘t so easy after I bought the land but once you believe in something and take the first step, then it starts. When you start with a team it‘s a lot easier. If you are alone and just by yourself, it is way more difficult. You have to coordinate yourself, nothing is scheduled, you have to manage everything by yourself. I could just work for the project on the weekend because of my job.“
Sima: “What was the biggest challenge?”
Bahadir: “I think the construction of the houses. I made a contract with the woodmen, they never made the things on time. I had lots of issues with people, because you have to manage everything to make things on point. Everyone wants just money, which is a basic problem in Turkey. Sometimes they had a 5 month delay to finish something. “
Sima: “Do you have any suggestions for others?”
Bahadir: “The location is very important. You have to know who your neighbours are, you might learn a lot from them or might have to face compromises to keep a healthy connection to them. It is very important to have access and enough fresh water on your piece of land.”
Julian: “Why do you use workaway?”
Bahadir: “It is nice to meet people from all over the world, to learn different point of views, it is inspiring. Workaway gives you the chance to meet people from all around the world, it strengthens the cultural exchange. Many people who came have similar projects or even want to develop those, because here they learn how it works in practise and may combine or learn about the difficulties for their own projects.”
Julian: “What about support, do you got any support by someone? How much was workaway involved in that procedure?“
Bahadir: “The volunteers who came here helped me a lot. The colombians for example made a pathway and a small road, the french guys helped me with the production of wine and with painting. I mean two weeks of volunteering here is not enough to maintain everything. Especially in summer, because it was super hot during the day so you just have a short time frame to work on something.”
Sima: “How do you finance this project?”
Bahadir:“Yeah, my salary was definitely not enough, you can not make this with just 900 € in a month. So I got support by my family. I think you get the money back in some years with eco tourism.
Sima: “Can you live self-sufficient or do you have to buy any externalities from the market for example?”
Bahadir: “No not really. So for example exotic fruits or beer i buy at the market, since now I am also not producing my own milk so this will be an upcoming task.”
Julian: “Where do you see yourself and the project in the future?”
Bahadir: “I am at the beginning now, I have to learn much more. In nature you learn so many new things, you defenitely feel yourself more alive. You consume your own products and then replant them for the next generation, it‘s like a circle. This makes you really calm. What I miss here is to share everything with someone, like my own family. Anyways in the future I want to combine teaching , with my gardening project to show how important nature is and that we are all able to produce our own food.”
Julian: “Looking back, if you would start your project today, what would you do differently?”
Bahadir: ”I travelled to some farms, I could have travelled more to other places and farms which would have made stuff more easier. I would have loved to gain a deeper knowledge about how to run a garden from others, but this is something no one will teach you. Of course it takes much of practise and the real live shows you where the boundaries are, but I think it is important to share this knowledge. Especially because the majority of people here in Turkey think that you should start with gardening when you retire and that it is impossible to start gardening before.“
Finally we asked Bahar what makes his project “casa do sol” so special and why people should come to his place? He just answered:
“Everything starts by dreaming. People feel so calm and relax here by being in the pure nature, this makes it special for me.”
In just four years, nearby Cesme in Turkey, Bahar developed a beautiful eco farm on a small hill next to the mediterranean sea. With a total size of 15000 square metres, having four stone houses and 4 wooden houses for hosting volunteers, friends and people around the world who are interested to learn more about a nature connected and self sufficient life, Bahar has definitely created his dream on this piece of land. Still under construction he already hosts 100 olive trees which he uses to produce his own olive oil. He accommodates 80 different fruit trees and produces almost 15 different types of vegetables. He is keeping his own bees, chickens and of course producing his own vine. Nowadays he is almost able to live completely self sufficient just because a small idea in his mind became to growth.
We wish you all the best Bahar, thank you for eveything, we will definitely come back to your lovely project one day. To get further informations about his project and how to visit check out links below:
Ecotourism Bahar Baçe in Çeşme.
We asked Bahadir some questions to share his background, how he realized his small organic farm and what does it take to make everything applicable. We hope this one can help you to start with your own project…